Opinion Pieces

We’ve abandoned gender equality and child welfare in the name of cost-cutting

Opinion article published in The Guardian on Friday 4 November 2016.

Low-income parents will feel the financial squeeze at every stage of childhood if the government pushes through cuts to family payments and paid parental leave.

What was once an effective family payments system – redesigned by the Hawke government to achieve a 30% reduction in child poverty – has been cut to the bone in recent years. Since 2009 alone, more than $12bn has been ripped out of the family payments system.

Both sides of politics are responsible, with measures such as removing the link between family payments and wages (an effective cut of more than $10 a week), freezing eligibility thresholds, tightening income tests and abolishing bonus payments.

On latest figures, there are 731,000 children living below the poverty line, including more than 40% of children in single parent families. Now the Coalition wants to cut payments to these families more in an attempt to generate a budget surplus.

The government’s latest attempt to do so is currently before the Senate. If they succeed in passing the bill, single parent families with teenage kids will be the worst affected, by $60 per week for those with two teens.

Read full opinion piece here


Flawed policies, not a scare campaign, nearly brought down Malcolm Turnbull’s government

Opinion article published in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Tuesday 12 July 2016.

It is now election folklore that a cleverly crafted “Mediscare” campaign pushed the ALP to within an inch of victory. There’s more to the story than this. Whatever the truth of the privatisation claim, people believed it because it was the kind of thing they expected the government to do.

The government’s first big mistake began in May 2014 when it announced a radical and harsh program of budget cuts to social security, health, education and community services, including the extraordinary proposal to deny income support for six months of every year to young people struggling to get a job.

Despite repeated warnings from ACOSS and many others this pattern continued in the 2015 and 2016 budgets. Two precious financial supplements – in total $8 per week – for people surviving on the $38 per day unemployment payment were cut, access to social security was reduced and an increasing number of people with disability were transferred to unemployment payments (losing more than $160 a week). Family payments to those on the lowest incomes (bound to increase child poverty) were cut and access to Centrelink services via the telephone severely reduced.

Read full opinion piece here


The long-term costs of the Sydney storms will outweigh the $100m damage bill

Opinion article published in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Friday 10 June 2016.

Extreme weather disasters affect all of us but they don’t affect everyone equally.

Last weekend as the super storm pounded Australia’s east coast and houses on Sydney’s northern beaches crumbled into the sea, Missionbeat’s phones ran hot with calls from rough sleepers in Sydney’s CBD asking for a lift to somewhere dry and warm.

The state government provided 20 beds in motel rooms for people who were homeless. But there are around 500 people sleeping on Sydney’s streets on any given night. Most of them, still soaking wet, sought shelter at Central station or in doorways and under archways while frontline charities handed out extra blankets, towels and raincoats.

Read full opinion piece here:


Opportunity lost: a quick-fix on superannuation delays the inevitable

Opinion article published in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday 7 March 2016.

For a while it looked like the government would seriously tackle tax issues around superannuation, but that hope has been quashed.

Is that it? As reports emerge that the government may have reduced its super reform agenda from a desperately needed makeover to a trim around the edges, policy wonks should be rightly aghast and the public should be too.

We all know that we have an ageing population and increasing pressure on government budgets. Remember all those graphs? We also know that one of the biggest strains on the budget is funding adequate incomes for people in later life, as well as paying for essentials like health, education, aged care and our safety net.

It is therefore unfathomable that the government would reduce superannuation reform to a mere tinkering at the edges, and do nothing to change the overall design of the system. Its mooted proposal is to shave tax breaks at the highest end in order to fund tax breaks for people who are on higher incomes. Can’t see the logic? You are not alone. But sadly, this appears to be where we are heading.

Read Full Opinion Article here.


Too many unanswered questions and too little evidence to support cashless welfare card

Opinion article published in The Australian newspaper on Monday 12 October 2015

The Federal Government must respond to concerns about the planned trials of a cashless welfare card following this week’s rejection by the Halls Creek and Kununurra communities in Western Australia and division in Ceduna in South Australia.

The Shire of Halls Creek’s Aboriginal advisory committee, which is representative of Aboriginal people right around the town of Halls Creek and surrounding communities, has voted against participating in the 12-month trial, citing similar concerns to those expressed in the ACOSS submission to a Senate Committee inquiry released last week.


Summit makes for diverse allies to reform economy

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie, published in The Australian Financial Review, Monday 7 September 2015

A wise woman once told me, ‘never assume where you will find your allies.’ It was sound advice that has stood the test of time. For ACOSS, the National Reform Summit was just such a case in point. For weeks, representatives of business, the ACTU, and the community sector, young people, and older people, worked hard, behind the scenes, to find our common ground and we succeeded.


National Reform Summit should look at all the options

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie, published in The Australian Financial Review on Thursday August 20, 2015

Australia’s future is in our hands. We are one of the wealthiest, most resource-rich countries in the world. Our public institutions are the envy of other nations. Our community is committed to fairness, we care about those who struggle, we celebrate diversity. Yet, we are deeply frustrated. We are frustrated by our political system, a parade of failed reforms. We do not understand why we lose great innovators overseas, nor why far too many of us live in poverty. The rise in unemployment worries us all. Our political debates pitch us against each other – young versus old, black versus white, citizens versus outsiders, gay versus straight – and we don’t like it.